Articles | Volume 12, issue 5
Research article
20 May 2016
Research article |  | 20 May 2016

Palaeoclimatic oscillations in the Pliensbachian (Early Jurassic) of the Asturian Basin (Northern Spain)

Juan J. Gómez, María J. Comas-Rengifo, and Antonio Goy

Abstract. One of the main controversial themes in palaeoclimatology involves elucidating whether climate during the Jurassic was warmer than the present day and if it was the same over Pangaea, with no major latitudinal gradients. There has been an abundance of evidence of oscillations in seawater temperature throughout the Jurassic. The Pliensbachian (Early Jurassic) constitutes a distinctive time interval for which several seawater temperature oscillations, including an exceptional cooling event, have been documented. To constrain the timing and magnitude of these climate changes, the Rodiles section of the Asturian Basin (Northern Spain), a well exposed succession of the uppermost Sinemurian, Pliensbachian and Lower Toarcian deposits, has been studied. A total of 562 beds were measured and sampled for ammonites, for biochronostratigraphical purposes, and for belemnites, to determine the palaeoclimatic evolution through stable isotope studies. Comparison of the recorded latest Sinemurian, Pliensbachian and Early Toarcian changes in seawater palaeotemperature with other European sections allows characterization of several climatic changes that are likely of a global extent. A warming interval partly coinciding with a δ13Cbel negative excursion was recorded at the Late Sinemurian. After a “normal” temperature interval, with temperatures close to average values of the Late Sinemurian–Early Toarcian period, a new warming interval containing a short-lived positive δ13Cbel peak, developed during the Early–Late Pliensbachian transition. The Late Pliensbachian represents an outstanding cooling interval containing a δ13Cbel positive excursion interrupted by a small negative δ13Cbel peak. Finally, the Early Toarcian represented an exceptional warming period, which has been pointed out as being responsible for the prominent Early Toarcian mass extinction.

Short summary
One of the challenges is to elucidate if climate during the Jurassic was warmer than present day, with no ice caps. The Pliensbachian Cooling event (Lower Jurassic) has been pointed out as one of the main candidates to have developed ice caps. The Rodiles section of the Asturian Basin (Northern Spain), allows the characterization of several climatic changes of probable global extent.